The conflict between good and evil, Rama and Ravana, and the theme of Dussehra in Bollywood

Vijayadashmi, Dussehra, Ayudhapuja. Numerous names, same significance. The day when the win of Rama over Ravana, good over evil, is celebrated with gusto. However, this festival has a Bollywood spin to it too. Through the years, imbibed in the plots, sometimes within the protagonists, many times as the conflict between two souls, and innumerable times as the war between hero and villain, we have witnessed the complexities of the fight between good and evil, in Bollywood, many times.

The finest example of this can be seen in Shah Rukh Khan starrer ‘Swades’. The movie was one of the splendid examples of how the strongest messages can be delivered in the most subtle manner. The message of good and evil, and the conflict within was explained marvellously through this song. As the music of AR Rahman coursed through the being, lyrics of Javed Akhtar, and the rendition by Shah Rukh Khan, make this one a magical composition. It told us that Ravana is not an outsider, he lies within all of us, and we need to destroy the evil within to truly make goodness victorious. What glorious plots could not do, this one song did that.

‘Man se Ravana jo nikale,

Rama uske man me hai…’

Another very beautiful example of ‘good over evil’ rendition can be seen in the most iconic movie of Indian cinema, ‘Sholay’. In fact, the movie is still popular today because of the intensity with which it delivered the message. The evil that Gabbar exuded still gives us goosebumps in fear, and the climax still rings in our hearts, with the same intensity no matter how many times one sees him getting hit and almost beaten to death by Thakur Baldev Singh, whose composure finally breaks.

‘Main Hoon Naa’ took the literal Rama and Ravana sequence and meshed it in a total masala formula, complete with patriotism thrown in for good measure. Even though the movie might not have been an intellectual or critically acclaimed one, but it was loved by masses and broke the box office. It effortlessly managed to pass on the message to its core audience, the youth and the mass who loved it in its entirety, and hated Raghavan with as much intensity as they loved Major Ram.

‘Raavan’ was the movie which took over the bold concept of showcasing the story and perspective of the most hated villain of Hindu mythology, in good light. Though the movie tanked at box office and was panned by critics too, but it portrayed that there is no demarcation between good and bad, that the fine line can be crossed and re-crossed multiple times, causing good to become evil, and vice versa, in a jiffy. The complex human nature, and its leap towards both sides was indeed shown remarkably. It again showed us how Rama and Ravana, good and evil, both are within us, both have their own definitions, and it is upon us to make one dominant. But then, the definition of good and bad is different for everyone, depending upon circumstances, and in spite of the fate of the movie, this one managed to spell out that message quite clearly.

Bollywood has been using and reusing this concept quite effectively, meshing it with genres and experimenting, but leaving it the same in essence, and we indeed love it. This Vijayadashmi, let’s take a cue from some of these movies, and work from within to kill the Ravana inside, and give our inner Rama a re-birth.